The city of Toamasina has a population of around 300,000 and is located on the east coast of Madagascar on the Indian Ocean. It is an incredibly fertile area, but the tropical climate means that the province is hit by cyclones and floods on a regular basis.As a result, many people’s livelihoods are constantly under threat of destruction. Families are sometimes left without a home or any basic infrastructure. Parents are often unable to provide for their children, many of whom suffer from malnourishment and do not go to school.
Since 1998, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Toamasina.
The majority of the local population in Toamasina Province live in rural areas and make a living in agriculture. Although the region is quite fertile, the tropical climate can be a challenge. Often, cyclones and floods destroy homes as well as harvests. People lose their livelihoods, their source of income and food.
Many families struggle to provide enough nutritious food for their children, which can have detrimental long-term effects, especially for the youngest. In fact, up to 60% of children under the age of 5 suffer from limited physical growth and intellectual development due to malnourishment.
The coastal region on the east of the island is often referred to as the “Madagascan Riviera” and is a popular international tourist destination. Although tourism means money for the local economy, it also brings its share of problems: children often work in the tourism sector, which can expose them to a great many dangers including sexual exploitation in the worst cases. Since poverty is so high in the area, many children are often expected to work to contribute to their household. As a result, they often do not go to school - only 1 in 5 children in the area can read, meaning that their future prospects are diminished.